By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– Sen. Michael Bennet is leading the drive for a public health insurance option in the U.S. The Colorado Democrat and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine first introduced their public option bill, Medicare-X, three years ago and reintroduced it on Wednesday.

(credit: CBS)

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Under the bill, Medicare-X would be available initially on the exchange in area where there is a shortage of insurers, especially rural communities.

It would use Medicare’s network of health care providers, who would then receive a reimbursement rate greater than the current Medicare rate.

The public option would guarantee the same essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act, including pediatrics, maternity care and mental health services.

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(credit: CBS)

Bennet said the coronavirus pandemic exposed the problem in the U.S. health care system.

“There is an overwhelming sense that the United States was left vulnerable because we don’t have universal health care coverage in this country and this is a way of providing it while allowing people who want to keep their health insurance to keep it, but giving the American people a choice,” said Bennet.

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Bennet said people who receive subsidies for private insurance would be able to instead buy Medicare-X.

Jennifer McRae